Nnena Kalu

Nnena Kalu binds and layers materials together. Driven by an instinctive and determined urge to build repeated marks and forms she creates raw and intense artworks. Since 2010 Nnena has created a vast number of sculptural forms of varying sizes; from collections of small, tightly constructed pods and cocoons to large, complex pieces. The frequently ephemeral nature of her work adds to its beauty as it lives in the moment. There is no narrative to Nnena’s work, it is pure form and her compelling, constantly evolving sculptures and installations bring the process of making to life.  Nnena approaches 2D work with the same passion and systematic layering, creating dense layers of colour and shifting lines. Throughout her practice the physical connection to her work whilst making is crucial. Nnena responds to the rhythm and noise of creating so the whole process becomes fully immersive and determines the shape, style and nature of each piece.


The energy and passion Nnena emits through the process of creating, her methodology and the complex and beautiful artworks she creates are fascinating.  The process is pivotal to Nnena but also gives insight for the viewer watching her work build and evolve, giving her practice a living almost performative quality. Nnena thrives when given a public platform to develop and share her practice. She has created extensive site-specific installations in public settings at the Southside Shopping Centre in Wandsworth in 2010, 2011, 2014 and Tooting Market in May 2012 for the ‘Part of It’ series. In 2014 Nnena also created a site-specific installation for the ‘Dizziness of Freedom’ exhibition in the Bermondsey project space. Nnena was invited by Mad Musee to develop a large scale installation for the ‘Capharnaum’ exhibition at the Theatre De Liege in 2016 as part of a group show alongside artists Hendrick Heffnick, Pascal Tassini and Selbermann. Over time Nnena has refined her approach to developing her installation work but all begin by attaching smaller ‘starter’ cocoons to the space or structure. She then adds to her cocoons, layering favourite materials such as plastics, tapes, and wool and binding them together to create complex wrapped forms. In 2015 and 2016 Nnena led interactive workshops based on her practice for ‘Watch This Space’ as part of the Wandsworth Arts Fringe and at the Wellcome Trust as part of ActionSpace’s participatory programme.


Upcoming –  Nnena Kalu at Studio Voltaire, Cork Street, 2020 (solo show)

Nnena Kalu: Wrapping, Humber Street Gallery, 2019 (solo show)

Outside In: Environments, Piano Nobile Kings Place, 2019 (group show)

TUBE LINES, Tate Exchange, 2019 (group show)

Outside In: Discover, Cerno Capital, 2018 (group show)

Spectrum Arts Prize, Saatchi Gallery, 2018 (group show)

Nnena Kalu, Glasgow International, 2018 (solo show)

Spring Syllabus, J Hammond Gallery, 2018 (group show)

Voltaire Open, Studio Voltaire, 2017 (group show)

Watch This Space, Wandsworth Fringe, Southside Shopping Centre 2017

Paris Outsider Art Fair, Hotel du Duc, 2016 (group show)

Threads Contemporary Textile Open, Salisbury Arts Centre, 2016

Magical Offspring, Geddes Gallery, 2016 (group show)

Imagine if That Said…, Safe House II, 2016 (group show)

Watch This Space, Wandsworth Fringe, Southside Shopping Centre 2016

Voltaire Open, Studio Voltaire, 2016 (group show)

Radical Craft: Alternative Ways of Making, Pallant House Gallery followed by UK tour, 2016 (Group Show)

CapharnaumTheatre de Liege, Installation alongside 3 other artists, 2016

Paris Outsider Art Fair, Hotel du Duc, 2015 (group show)

Watch This Space, Wandsworth Fringe Festival, Southside Shopping Centre, 2015

Open House, Studio Voltaire, 2015 (group show)

Parallel Lines, Area 44, 2014 (group show)

The Trouble with Painting Today, Pump House Gallery, 2014 (group show)

Dizziness of Freedom, Bermondsey Project, 2014 (group show)

Watch This Space, Wandsworth Arts Festival Fringe, Southside Shopping Centre, 2014 (group show)

Epiphanies! Secrets of Outsider Art, St Pancras Hospital, 2013 (group show)

Open House, Studio Voltaire, 2013 (group show)

Action Space, Tara Arts, 2013

Side by Side international exhibition, Southbank Centre, 2013 (group show)

Dreamcatcher. Moment in Time. Part of Shape in the City, Gracechurch Street, 2013 (group show)

Part of It 3, Wandsworth Arts Festival, Tooting Market 2012

Part of it 2, Wandsworth Arts Festival, Southside Shopping Centre. 2nd Participatory installation, 2011

Part of It, Wandsworth Arts Festival, Southside Shopping Centre. Participatory installation, 2010

Cut It Out, Southfields Library, 2008

Under Glass, University College Hospital, 2008

Pigs Might Fly, Pump House Gallery, 2006

18 Drivers, Studio Voltaire, 2005

Big Show, Studio Voltaire, 2004



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